Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Los Angeles, chapter 2

Last Wednesday, we woke up bright and not-totally early to head out to Santa Monica in search of the farmer's market.  We tasted lots of wonderful fruits and veggies and settled on an artichoke, some asparagus, and a few lemons and blood oranges to bring home and make into dinner.  We supplemented on the way home with a bone marrow and a few pork chops from Mary's local butcher shop; we decided on the pork because it was Passover and the pork was being, well, passed over.  What a feast that turned out to be.
            But before the feast we had to exhaust ourselves taking in as much as we could at the Getty Center.  This was another one of my geeky, future-architect outings that I had requested and Mary and Brian and I all agreed that, at the end of the week, that was our favorite thing that we did.  Hurrah!  The tourist picked out an awesome spot that the locals had never been to before!  Isn't that too often the way?
            The Getty is a supremely special place.  To get there you have to park your car in the lot (the only place where they actually charge you for the wonderful experience) and then take a tram up the hill.  This physical separation from your regular world can in no way prepare you, really, for the psychological separation you get, through the extreme calm, once up top.
The whole place is white/off-white, mostly stone, imported from Italy.  Set against the deep blue sky on a beautiful day, this is a real treat for the eyes.  I have to say, I've seen a lot of impressive museums, but this is the first one where I really didn't care if I got in to see the art or not.  Just being there, amongst the buildings, gardens and water features, was enough of a change from everyday life to make the trip worth it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Los Angeles, chapter 1

I spent this past week in not-as-sunny-as-usual Los Angeles visiting my dear dear friend and soulmate Ms. Mary King.  She writes a great blog about the restaurant biz, Where the Sidework Ends.  Even though we hadn't seen each other in almost 6 years, we picked up right where we left off, reading each others' minds, finishing each others' sentences, etc.  Lucky for me, she got off of work for most of the time that I was in town, but during the few hours that she had to work on Tuesday at her restaurant, Border Grill, I had a great future architect plan for the morning.
            For the previous week or so I had been emailing back and forth with Laura Massino to schedule a tour with her company, Architecture Tours L.A.  When I met up with her on Tuesday morning, I was pleased to find that I was the only person on the tour, and the next 3 hours were spent getting all of my own questions answered and being chauffeured around downtown Los Angeles.  What I found was a city full of buildings that were conglomerations of different styles: Gothic mixed with Mayan, Japanese mixed with Italian, etc.  And I was glad to see that, even though LA is a pretty young city, it has a great sense of history and preservation.  Some of my favorite buildings were:
The Eastern Building, where Johnny Depp resides when in LA.  I loved this polychromed art deco look; not to say I would build something like this, but it was so fun to look at.
The new California Department of Transportation building, which was one of the newest buildings on my tour, finished in 2004.  The architect Thom Mayne was awarded the 2005 Pritzker Prize for this design, and it has a silver LEED rating.
The tour wrapped up in the cutest little neighborhood, which was originally a suburb of LA that got swallowed up by the city.  Thanks to the historic guidelines, this neighborhood is very true to its past and the houses that have been restored and/or kept up are true gems.  It also is a great neighborhood for filming, I would expect.
            After I had had my fill of architecture for the day (improbable) I met up with Mary back at Border Grill where she sated my other appetite, for food, with just about every dish that they had at the restaurant that she thought I would like. The cucumber margarita was delish, as was the little taste of the jalapeno margarita that the bartender sent over with it.  And I have to say, the fish taco I ate there was the first fish taco I have ever liked, which is to say it's surprising that I even ventured to try it, but I was glad that I did!  If you'd like to hear more about what I ate while in LA, check out my tweets @hmwick (or right on this page).
            Once Mary was off of work, we did an impromptu pub crawl of sorts around downtown LA, stopping in at Chaya, and ogling their cool chandelier, made by British sculptor Stuart Haygarth.  We also had a good dinner (and macaroons) at Bottega Louie.  The night ended at Mas Malo, where we befriended a bartender who showed us the inner sanctum, AKA the safe in the back (the bar used to be a jewelry shop) which is full of tequila.
To be continued.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

One small piece of mail for man . . .

One giant envelope for Wicky.
Yesterday I sent in my deposit to . . . the University of Illinois in Chicago!  It came down to UIC and IIT, so lucky me, I am staying in Chicago no matter what.  I love this city and I can't imagine many better places to study architecture.  I went to open houses at each school, both in the fall and in the past few weeks, and in the end I just had a better feel for UIC.  I got to speak with a lot of current students and professors and just thought the people seemed like a lot of fun, and that's what this is all about, right?
            And in case you popped over to this page for a look at some architecture, here's a picture.  This building was built in 2009, designed by Jeanne Gang.  It's the tallest building in the world to have a woman as lead architect.  And it's right here in my city of Chicago, called Aqua.